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Sunday Old School: Bloodbath

Photo of Bloodbath

Band Photo: Bloodbath (?)

Last month in this column, we examined the career of Fantomas and mentioned the topic of supergroups. Whilst Fantômas much like Cream, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Crosby Stills and Nash (and Young) crafted some excellent music and achieved great commercial success (in the latter three cases at least,) many of these projects fall flat or only last for two albums, such as Velvet Revolver and GTR. A supergroup that seemingly met the high hopes of fans however, was one formed in the Swedish capital city of Stockholm, which comprised of some of the most respected names in death metal and chose the suitably brutal name of Bloodbath.

Bloodbath were formed in 1998, the brainchild of Opeth frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt and Edge of Sanity's Dan Swanö, who handled vocals and drums respectively. They were soon joined by Katatonia members Anders Nyström on guitar and Jonas Renkse on bass and two years later, released their debut EP, "Breeding Death," through Century Media Records. The three track release received a generally positive response from the death metal faithful, with many feeling it was a worthy debut from such a talented collective.

After a little time spent on their main bands, Bloodbath reconvened to record their first full length album, "Resurrection Through Carnage," which was once more released via Century Media in 2002. It was deemed just as good as their initial EP and once more garnered praise for it's very "Swedish" sound, with frequent comparisons to Grave and Entombed being drawn. It was however, to be the group's last album with Åkerfeldt for a while, as he decided to leave the group in order to concentrate on Opeth, as well as new family commitments that came with the birth of his first child.

In his place came another member of Swedish extreme royalty, Peter Tägtgren, of Hypocrisy and Pain fame, while Swanö switched from drums to guitar, bringing in Martin Axenrot of Witchery (and later, Opeth) to replace him on the drum stool. This incarnation of the group recorded their sophomore full length, "Nightmares Made Flesh" in 2004, with a release coming later the same year. It's generally regarded even more favourably than its predecessor, with particular praise heaped upon the focus on riffs and its more refined style.

However, the band's partnership with Tägtgren would only last for this album, as he departed the ranks in February 2005 due to conflicting schedules, leaving the band to once more search for a new vocalist. Surprisingly, when the group were confirmed for that year's edition of Wacken Open Air, it was announced that Mikael Åkerfeldt would be handling vocal duties for what was reported by the band to be the first and last time live. The next month, Bloodbath resumed their search for a new frontman, but after over a year of no appointments, Swanö also quit the band, with musical differences and a busy schedule being cited as the main reasons, while the remaining members appeared to call it a day by announcing that they had suspended their search for a new singer.

Despite this, in March 2007, it was reported that Bloodbath were about to return with a new lineup, something which was soon confirmed by the band themselves, who also announced plans to write and record new material. It was a surprise to many that once again, back in the fold, was Mikael Åkerfeldt, along with new guitarist Per "Sodomizer" Eriksson. The quintet were as good as their word and later that year, released a new EP, "Unblessing the Purity," to a slowly becoming standard, positive reception. It was the sign of a busy period for the band, as the next year, they released their first live effort, "The Wacken Carnage" on CD and DVD, before their third album, "The Fathomless Misery" followed in October 2008, which received the usual plaudits, with some nitpicking thrown in for good measure, as most records get.

Three years on from the last studio album, Bloodbath released their second live DVD, "Bloodbath Over Bloodstock," which not only featured their performance at the titular British festival, but also from the German event Party San. This would mark the end of another chapter for the band however, as the following year, Åkerfeldt took leave once more, seemingly due to his lack of interest in death metal, as evidenced by Opeth's 2011 album, "Heritage."

For the next two years, fans wondered who would be brought in to replace the charismatic singer, with many curious as to whether they would bring in a relatively unknown, another death metal favourite or fold altogether, before Nyström revealed that they had indeed found a new vocalist, who he described as a "legend," but also mentioned that due to a lack of a contract, his identity could not yet be revealed. Finally, on September 16th 2014, Bloodbath announced that their new frontman was none other than Paradise Lost vocalist, Nick Holmes, who took on the moniker, "Old Nick," a working class British term for Satan.

Only two months later, the band released their fourth studio album, and first with Holmes, "Grand Morbid Funeral," which received some excellent reviews from the media and a generally warm reception from fans, though not all were won over by the new vocalist. It seems however that the Yorkshireman, and indeed the long serving Swedish musicians in Bloodbath are in for the long run, as the band have already begun being announced for festivals next year, including Leyendas del Rock in Spain, fueling speculation that Bloodbath will soon be adding another gore drenched chapter to their unholy book. Here's hoping!

Bloodbath - "Breeding Death"

Bloodbath - "Ways to the Grave"

Bloodbath - "Brave New Hell"

Bloodbath - "Mouth of Empty Praise"

Bloodbath - "Hades Rising"

Bloodbath - "Church of Vastitas"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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2 Comments on "Sunday Old School: Bloodbath"

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1. Blindgreed1 writes:

Great piece as always Oz.

# Aug 16, 2016 @ 3:08 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

2. Diamond Oz writes:

Cheers mate!

# Aug 17, 2016 @ 1:55 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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